Government trustees reported that a combination of rising costs and an aging population cut the life expectancy of Medicare's trust fund to just 8 years.
The trustees forecast that 100% of benefits will be covered through 2034, after which the trust funds for Social Security, which also cover old age and disability insurance programs, will only be able to cover about 79% of benefits. However, certain long-term issues persist.
President Trump has said he won't cut Social Security or Medicare, and his administration says that a strong economy will bolster both programs.
Unless lawmakers act, both programs face the prospect of being unable to cover the full cost of promised benefits.
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But in a statement, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says the government's economic agenda will generate the long-term growth needed to help stabilize both Medicare and Social Security. Social Security and Medicare probably will never run out of money, in the sense that no Congress or president would let benefit checks be cut.
At the same time, it said, outlays from Medicare's hospital trust fund "are expected to be higher than last year's estimates due to higher-than-anticipated spending in 2017, legislation that increases hospital spending", and higher payments to private Medicare Advantage plans.
While the boost is welcome news, retirees continue to experience spikes in common household expenditures that are growing several times faster than 3%, the League reports. Medicare trustees say the trust fund that covers Medicare Part A, which pays for hospital stays, home health services, nursing homes and hospice care, will run out of money sooner than expected. The way to do that is to legislate modest reforms to the entitlement programs along with higher taxes (including Social Security payroll taxes) for those most able to afford them. It will decline further to about 2.2 by 2035, when most baby boomers will have retired, officials said. At the end of 2017, the program had about 62 million beneficiaries.
Social Security recipients are likely to see a cost-of-living increase of about 2.4 percent next year, said government number-crunchers who produced the report. About a quarter of Part B costs are paid for by beneficiary premiums with the rest from the federal budget. The system's costs exceeded its income in 1982, but a bipartisan compromise the following year led to additional revenue and benefit reductions.